Breaking Barriers: How Unions Can Lead the Way Through DEI

Unions play a critical role in protecting the rights and interests of workers, and in creating a more equitable and just society. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of December 2021, the percentage of wage and salary workers who are members of unions in the United States is around 10.8%. This means that around 14 million Americans are part of unions. 

It’s important to note that union membership rates can vary significantly from state to state across the United States. While some states have unionization rates above 20%, indicating a strong and active labor movement, others have rates below 5%, which could suggest a lack of organization or less favorable labor laws. These disparities can have significant implications for workers in terms of their ability to negotiate fair wages, benefits, and working conditions.

The challenges facing unions vary and include a decline in membership, increasing anti-union sentiment, and shifts in the economic landscape. However, in order for unions to effectively address these challenges and remain relevant in the modern workforce, one of the things they have to do is make Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) a top priority within their organizations and constituents.

Why Unions Should Strive for DEI

An inclusive and diverse union is essential for effectively representing the needs and interests of all workers. The vitality of unions lies in their ability to mobilize support and participation from a wide range of workers, including those from historically marginalized communities. When a union embraces diversity and inclusion, it creates a welcoming environment where all members can feel valued, respected, and supported. This not only strengthens the union’s bargaining power but also promotes a sense of unity and solidarity among workers, ultimately leading to better working conditions and more equitable outcomes for all.

By investing in DEI initiatives, unions can ensure that their leadership, staff, and membership truly reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. This will help to build trust and credibility with workers, and will also allow unions to better understand and address the unique challenges facing different groups of workers. By promoting an environment of Safety, Belonging, and Inclusion, Unions can mitigate the declining membership trends. 

Empowering Unions to Reach Their Objectives through DEI

A more inclusive union will also be better positioned to achieve its goals. Unions are most effective when they can build coalitions and partnerships with other organizations and community groups. By investing in DEI initiatives, unions can ensure that they are building relationships and alliances with organizations and communities that are also committed to social justice and equity. This will help unions to amplify their impact and to achieve their goals more effectively.

Unions that invest in DEI are also more likely to foster a culture of respect and inclusivity within the workplace. Unions have a responsibility to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and with dignity, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. By investing in DEI initiatives, unions can create a culture of respect and inclusivity within their own organizations, and can also serve as role models for other employers.

The Right Thing To Do 

Finally, investing in DEI initiatives within unions is not only pragmatic but also morally imperative. Unions are founded on the principles of justice, equality, and fairness, and by embracing DEI, they can demonstrate their commitment to these principles. It is the right thing to do. It is a moral imperative to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and equitably in the workplace.

We know that promoting DEI in the workplace leads to creating a more equitable and just society. Unions have a unique opportunity to lead by example and to promote diversity and inclusion not only within their own organizations but also in the wider community. By creating a culture of inclusivity and advocating for equitable policies, unions can help break down systemic barriers and ensure that all workers are afforded equal opportunities and treatment.

Not only is it the right thing to do, but DEI initiatives can lead to greater innovation, productivity, and employee satisfaction. When workers feel valued and respected, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. In turn, this can lead to better job performance, higher job satisfaction, and better outcomes for the organization.

How to Get Started

MESH/​diversity can help your Union meet its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion objectives. MESH is a revolutionary DEI operating system that offers Diversity Training and enables HR Professionals.

MESH is here to help you tackle any DEI challenges you may be facing. Talk to an expert about how we can help you create a workplace where everyone thrives.